BAuris Johnson’s complete lack of shame has always been one of his hallmarks of narcissism. His willingness to betray family, friends, and colleagues for short-term personal gain is well known. Much the same way, his lack of competence – his inability to grasp key details – was also appreciated in the equation, as no one in the Conservative Party seats cared much. It was just Boris being Boris.
But something changed over the course of the summer. Johnson is no longer seen as a man with a winning touch. Just the opposite, actually. Many Tories are slowly waking up to the fact that it can be a burden. Several prime ministers have discovered that being in the top job requires a different skill and mindset than it does getting the top job.
The difference with Boris is that he shows no signs of his willingness to learn to adapt to change. Instead, he appears to be getting worse as prime minister. Restrictions that are increasingly revealed include laziness, short temper, and forgetfulness.
The prime minister’s questions are often dismissed as being part of the performance theater. Something that only matters who are inside the Westminster bubble. And there is some truth to that. But it also provides a window into a leader’s soul, revealing qualities like empathy, intelligence, intelligence, and humility.
In all respects, Boris is failing miserably: his inability to gauge not only the mood of the House of Commons but the nation is also a sociopath. It’s as if he’s hiding in a bunker surrounded by yes men – there are almost no women in Boris’ inner circle – only telling him the things he wants to hear.
By contrast, Kerr Starmer is learning fast. His early outings into PMQs were no less than efficient, but there was an embarrassment to them. As if he is being trained to play the role of the man who was elected leader of the Labor Party. But now we are starting to see the real man. His questions are equally focused, but there is now the ability to think on his feet and respond to the prime minister’s lies and misinformation with genuine suspicion, anger and – when needed – humor. In PMQs, there’s only one person who seems fit to run the country and he’s not Boris.
So it is not as if the Labor leader was not spoiled by the lines of attack on the prime minister, and Starmer is expected to choose to get into the exams chaos. Either Boris knew about the problem and chose not to know anything, or he didn’t know about it when he should have done so. Simple question: which one is? Just as expected, Boris resorted to bullshit and bragging. The workers never wanted the children to return to school in the first place. A blunt lie, as Starmer has unequivocally lent his support to returning students on several occasions in May and June.
After that, Johnson had a complete meltdown. Even the few Conservatives in the room had the grace to appear embarrassed. Initially, Boris Kerr was accused of being anti-Brexit – as if remaining means you automatically want tens of thousands of people to die from the Coronavirus and for the less wealthy students to be downgraded in their scores to the first level. Then he went on to accuse Starmer of being an Irish Republican Army supporter.
This was too much for the Labor leader and speaker of Parliament, Lindsay Howell. In the past, Hoyle was reluctant to challenge Johnson when he took off with a big bang, but this time he was quick to hold him back.
Starmer was understandably angry and Boris stated that as Director of Public Prosecutions he had brought charges against several terrorists. He could also point out that it wasn’t he who recently offered nobility to Claire Fox, who defended the 1993 Warrington bombing while she was a member of the RCP.
“If he’s a decent guy, he’s going to apologize,” Starmer said. But Boris isn’t a decent guy, so he didn’t. Instead he kept dashing on his way. There will be no extension of the vacation regime as it will encourage people to hang out around the house without doing anything. As if the prospect of becoming unemployed has been a lifestyle choice for millions of workers.
Starmer ended by asking why Johnson has now refused to meet families of those who have gone missing from Covid-19, after promising to do so on TV just days earlier. Remind me, was this the twelfth or thirteenth rotation in the past six weeks? Now is the time for Boris’s sad face. Or that fails, serious face. But he couldn’t do either, so he smiled a little. The reason he did not want to see the bereaved was not because of his lack of interest but because he cared so much. Their stories might make him unhappy. Moreover, it would be inappropriate where the bereaved were in conflict with the government. They were not, but what was more of a lie than many?
The Starmer-induced breakdown continued for the rest of the PMQs. Boris seems to have no idea there are so many industries such as aviation, tourism and hospitality that will not be returning to normal anytime soon.
Nor was he aware that Matt Hancock had just extended some of the local lockdowns at the very moment he was saying more people should be back at work. One day, it might occur to Boris that some companies may not want to harm the health of their employees by forcing them to return before the workplace is properly safe. But today was not that day.
Instead, it was the day Boris’ caregivers were trying to get him out of the House of Commons before he did any further harm to the country or the Conservative Party.
It’s also been a day for those PMQs asking themselves what they’ve done in order to deserve a leader who visibly breaks down week after week. There wasn’t anything very smart about Boris: Now there isn’t even anything funny. Of all the joints of the Coronavirus, in all cities of the world, it enters our country.
Zombie specialist. Friendly twitter guru. Internet buff. Organizer. Coffee trailblazer. Lifelong problem solver. Certified travel enthusiast. Alcohol geek.